Friday, May 12, 2006

I was buying it all until I saw the picture

I always find these sorts of social psych, nature/nurture stories interesting, and this one, posted over at the BBC, had me from the start.

Women 'sense qualities in a man'

Women are fine tuned subconsciously to detect the qualities they are looking for in a man - just by looking at his face, US research suggests.

Women can spot subtle signs of interest in children in a man's face, and accurately assess his level of the sex hormone testosterone, it claims.

Child-friendly men were rated as good long-term bets, masculine men as ideal for a more short-term fling.

The piece explained the methodology of the study—something I always want to know—and it said that men were shown various pictures of adults and kids, and their interest levels were gauged. They were also swabbed for testosterone levels. Then women were shown pictures of the guys, and the women pegged the men who had shown interest in children as good long-term relationship material, while the guys that had high testosterone levels were called more masculine and more attractive by the women who, again, only saw pictures of faces.

As I said, I was interested. And, it was making sense to me. . . until I saw this:

Mickey Rourke: Defined by the researchers [as] having a masculine face

Eeeeeeyeah! Ladies, if this is an example of an attractive, masculine face, um, well, I question this study. . . and your judgment. (OK, I really question the judgment of the photo editor over at, but looking at it the other way does a so much better job of explaining high school.)

(By the way, I saw Mr. Rourke in the airport last year, and he looked pretty much like this picture, except freakier.)

PS A friend pointed out another possible flaw: what if the men who expressed interest in the pictures of kids were just pedophiles? Hmmm.


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